Common bonds connect Red Sox, Cubs

It is a series about curses – Bambino, Bartman and Billy Goat – calamity and now, finally, a championship. It is about common bonds: grounders through the legs of Buckner and Durham and names such as Ted, Ernie, Zim and Nomar.

Mostly, the Red Sox-Cubs series this weekend is about history.

This will mark the Red Sox' first visit ever to Wrigley Field, the second-oldest ballpark in the major leagues to, of course, Fenway Park. When Boston beat the Cubs in six games in the 1918 World Series, the three games played in Chicago were played at Comiskey Park, where the Cubs chose to play because it had greater seating capacity.

Boston's Babe Ruth won Games 1 and 4. A total of 19 runs were scored in the series. There were no home runs. It would take the Red Sox 86 years to win again. The Cubs haven't won in 97 years.

For teams that have played each other six times in their history, they have a lot to share. They have Bill Buckner, who won a batting title in 1980, the last Cub to do so. They have Don Zimmer, who managed both teams; he won a division title for the Cubs in 1989. They have Grady Little, who managed the Red Sox to their near miss in 2003, and now is a roving catching instructor in the Cubs' minor-league system.

They have Hall of Famers Dennis Eckersley and Fergie Jenkins, and Andre Dawson and Lee Smith, who lost a postseason game for each team. They have Matt Clement, who is not expected to start this weekend for Boston. And they have Nomar Garciaparra; who is injured and can't play.

They share the horror that was the 2003 championship series. The Cubs led the Marlins, three games to two, and had a 3-0 lead in the eighth inning of Game 6. The Marlins scored eight runs in the eighth – with help from Cubs fan Steve Bartman – to win, then won the next day. The Red Sox led the Yankees 5-2 in the bottom of the eighth in Game 7, Little left Pedro Martinez in, he allowed three runs, then Aaron Boone won it in the 11th.

Boston ended its curse last year. The Cubs were hoping to end theirs this season. Maybe, in their first meeting in 87 years, the success of the Red Sox magically will be transferred to the Cubs.

As the last two years with these teams have proved, stranger things have happened.

Tim Kurkjian is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine and a regular contributor to Baseball Tonight.